When picking inspiring women, it helps if they’re real


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When 4,000 British ladies were asked by Baileys who they thought the most spirited and inspiring women of all time were, they threw up a curious bunch.

In fact, the top 100 is all a bit depressing. Sure, there are quite rightfully appearances from the likes of Emmeline Pankhurst (3) and Florence Nightingale (7) alongside some fascinating modern-day women, including Hillary Clinton (18) and Vivienne Westwood (19).

But apparently some of those polled struggled to come up with any real-life women who inspired them and were forced to turn to fiction. How encouraging. So we have Elizabeth Bennet of Pride and Prejudice (11), Gone With the Wind’s Scarlett O’Hara (14), Bridget Jones (15) and Jane Eyre (20) included in the top 20. It’s something that none of the character’s creators, such as Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë, managed to do, despite perhaps being worthier picks.

And without wishing to take anything away from Judi Dench (1) and Helen Mirren (2), who both seem like wonderful women, but if the same people surveyed were asked for their most inspirational men, I would be surprised if two actors took the top spots.